Paraklesis. Atonement

Beloved friends and fellow-workers,

I observe the following:

Two curious facts about the atoning death of Christ among many in current Christianity.

Peter Adam | November 2018 | stjudes.org.au/peteradam

1. Neglect

I am constantly amazed at the neglect of the atoning death of Christ, accompanied by the loss of the issue of sin, and the loss of belief in God’s holiness and God’s final judgement among many in contemporary Christianity. So often Christ is seen and preached as anything except the priest who offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for sin. So often the God-ward significance of Christ’s death is displaced by its other effects. So often our problems are described, even our sins against others are described, but our sin against God is ignored. Yes, Christ’s death does show us God’s love. Yes, Christ’s death is an example for us to follow in humility, love, and service. Yes, Christ does defeat death, Satan, and all evil powers on the cross. But if our sin is not atoned for, we are lost. 

Without the atoning death of Christ, our prayers may be answered, our daily problems may be solved, we may enjoy happy lives, our churches may be full, but we and our people will be lost for eternity.

The cross is crucial! We can easily commit heresy in our lives and ministries by intentional or accidental neglect. Don’t neglect to tell others about the cross of Christ!

2. Disjunction

I am even more amazed at those who do assert the centrality of the atoning death of Christ, and yet fail to express this in their daily lives. There is a curious disjunction between their lips and their lives. They sing songs about the death of Christ on the cross, but seem to neglect the cross in their daily lives. What an unhappy disjunction!

Here are some useful questions to ask:

Do I remember that I only have access to God in life and in prayer, through Christ, our high priest, and his sacrifice? [Hebrews 10:19-22]

Do I know that I need a great high priest every day, and constantly trust in Christ’s once for all sacrifice for sins on the cross? [Hebrews 10:12]

What are my current personal sins, and am I confessing them and receiving God’s forgiveness for them every day? [1 John 1:8-10]

What sins I am currently putting to death every day? [Romans 6:11-14]

Am I growing in personal holiness? [Hebrews 12:14]

Do I know what my current sins of ministry are, and am I confessing them and receiving God’s forgiveness for them every day? [2 Timothy 2:21]

Am I entrusting myself to God who judges justly when I am unjustly treated, following Christ’s example? [1 Peter 2:23]

Am I kind and compassionate to fellow believers, forgiving them as God in Christ forgave me? [Ephesians 4:32]

Have I learnt to please others more than I please myself, following Christ’s example? [Romans 15:3]

Do I look to the interests of others in Christian ministry rather than my own, so imitating Christ’s death? [Philippians 2:1-11]

Do I know that God loves me, because he sent his Son that I might live? [1 John 4:10].

Do want to know Christ, sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, so attaining to the resurrection from the dead? [Philippians 3:10,11]

Do I know that through Christ’s death on the cross, I am now in him, and that God is in him, and so I am close to God in Christ? [Colossians 1:19,20, 2:9,10]

Do I know freedom from the present evil age through Christ’s death? [Galatians 1:3]

Do I know personal transformation:  I have been crucified with Christ, so Christ lives in me? [Galatians 2:20]

Do I know freedom from the curse of the Law through the blood of Christ? [Galatians 3:13]

Do I know I know freedom from primitive legalistic forms of religion through the death of Christ? [Galatians 4:1-7]

Have I crucified my flesh as I belong to Christ, so that I may live by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit? [Galatians 5:24,25]

Do I know the freedom from the need of the approval of others, through Christ’s death [Galatians 6:13,14]

Do I know that I will only triumph over Satan by the blood of the Lamb? [Revelation 12:11]

Am I taking up my cross daily, to follow Jesus? Am I ashamed of Jesus and his words? [Luke 9:23,26]

Have I learnt to serve others, following Jesus, the Son of Man? [Mark 10:45]

We are singing cross-shaped songs: Are we living cross-shaped lives?

Some good resources:

Here is a moving account of a remarkable indigenous leader, William Cooper.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/world/the-aboriginal-hero-who-stood-up-to-hitler/

And a friend has written extensively on the personal and pastoral challenges of dealing with sexual abuse in churches:

https://stjudes.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Sexual-abuse-in-church-setting-WCB.pdf

If you need to check on your use of alcohol:

http://auditscreen.org/

I am having a holiday in December, so the next Paraklesis will be in the new year.

With warmest good wishes for your own lives and ministries,

Yours,

Peter